Approximately 90,000 Christians were murdered for their faith in 2016 worldwide, making them the most persecuted religious group in the world, according to The Center for Studies on New Religions. What is more, the level of persecution has been steadily rising for the last several years and is set to continue doing so in the future. Following is an overview of some of the main reasons why Christianity is the most persecuted faith in the world today.
The scope of persecution against Christianity is simply astounding. Recent statistics show that up to one hundred million Christians globally face persecution for their beliefs. Up to 80% of all acts of religious discrimination are perpetrated against Christians and 90% of all people killed for their religious beliefs are Christians. Considering the fact that Christians only make up about 30% of the world’s population, it is clear that believers are targeted far more often than any other religion.
Persecution against Christians takes on many forms, including imprisonment, torture, social discrimination, discrimination by employers, beatings of pastors, destruction of churches, community discrimination, forced re-conversion and lack of government assistance that is typically provided to non-Christian nationals.
The unrest in the Middle East has also led to the persecution of an untold number of believers. In Iraq, for instance, Christians were once given the same freedoms as Muslims. They could build churches, worship without fear of persecution and proclaim their beliefs in peace and safety. This changed when Saddam Hussein was forced from power. The overwhelming majority of Christians were either killed or forced to flee to neighboring countries.
The same scenario has played out in Syria in recent years. As the civil war progressed, the secular government of Bashar Assad was no longer able to protect Christians from persecution by radical Muslims. Aleppo, which was home to the largest Christian community in the country, has only retained less than 25% of its former Christian population.
The conflict in Yemen has forced expatriate and migrant Christians to flee the country, leaving only several thousand national Christians behind. The humanitarian crisis in the nation imperils believers even more than Muslim nationals as Christians are ostracized from society and targeted by militants.
Non-violent political changes are also increasing persecution in various parts of the world. India’s recent election of Narendra Modi has boosted Hindu nationals and brought about increased persecution of Christians, especially in rural parts of the country.
Sri Lanka’s government began persecuting minority religions in earnest since the end of its civil war in 2009. The Chinese president’s desire to consolidate power has led to Christians being advised that they should replace pictures of Jesus in their homes with pictures of the Chinese leader. Open Doors recently noted that ethnic nationalism currently rivals Islamic extremism as the main reason behind Christian persecution in many countries.
To make matters worse, the United Nations has not risen to the occasion, failing to use its resources to properly aid persecuted Christians. This is especially true in countries in the Middle East as Christians who have been forced from their homes cannot safely enter a UN-run refugee camp without encountering radicals who wish to do them harm.
However, it is not only the UN that is worthy of criticism. The United States has actually aided Saudi Arabia in bombing Yemen and supports the Saudi government while it blocks needed aid to the country. It is not surprising then that the plight of the church in the Middle East has left many Christian leaders in the region feeling forgotten by the international community.
Nationalism, religious extremism, wars and civil unrest and a lack of concern in the international community has made it unsafe for followers of Jesus to practice Christianity freely in many countries around the world.
Unfortunately, these problems are not only not being resolved but are set to get worse, especially in the Middle East. The region is far more volatile than it has been for many years and recent political changes in Saudi Arabia has increased the prospects of armed conflict with Iran, a country that is home to about 800,000 Christians. Syria and Iraq are still unstable in spite of the fact that ISIS is far less powerful than it was even a year ago.
As we inch closer to the most revered holiday in Christianity, we ask that if at all possible please donate your time, money and efforts that seek to help other Christians around the world to escape persecution, murder and harassment. Now more than ever, our Brothers and Sisters in Christ need us the most.
~ Christian Patriot Daily